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Press Archive: Edwards Files for Divorce

Oxford Eagle, Thursday, January 14, 1999
Ken Edwards Files For Divorce, Ends Whirlwind Romance
Alleges wife withheld truth about past, duped him into marriage

by Charlie Harris, Staff Reporter

Court records reveal that prominent Oxford banker Ken Edwards, Senior Vice President at First National Bank of Oxford, has filed for a divorce from his wife of less than five months, Natasha Van Moore, owner of Good Graces charm school. Edwards filed his suit in Oxford early this week, citing irreconcilable differences and fraud as grounds for the divorce.

Ken Edwards has been a fixture in Yoknapatawpha County for years. During his high school days in the late 1960s, he made a name for himself as a star athlete at Oxford University School. In the early 1970s, he continued to distinguish himself at the University of Mississippi, both as an athlete and a student. Edwards has been with First National Bank of Oxford since 1975 and is well liked by customers and business associates alike. He is also well known in the Oxford community for his participation in numerous charitable and civic organizations including the Chamber of Commerce, the Historical Society, the Yoknapatawpha County Library Committee, the Rowan Oak Preservation Society, the University of Mississippi Alumni Association and United Way of Oxford.

Natasha Van Moore, who hails from the Memphis, Tennessee area, moved to Oxford in 1990 and soon went to work at Cupid's Couples, the dating service that would later introduce her to Edwards. Van Moore left Cupid's Couples in 1994 to devote all her efforts to Good Graces, an etiquette school she'd been running in her spare time since 1991. According to their advertising, Good Graces provides training in "social graces" and works primarily with local high school and college students, though they also offer classes for adults. Good Graces is probably best known for the parties they host twice a month for members of the Oxford elite and the Good Graces students, giving the students opportunities to practice their newly developed social skills.

Edwards and Van Moore were introduced by Cupid's Couples, a local matchmaking service that promotes itself as "a gateway to matrimony." Edwards had been included on "Most Eligible Bachelor" short-lists for years, and he stunned the community when he married Van Moore after a brief but intense courtship. Their wedding, an extravagant ceremony at St. Peter's Episcopalian Church, was one of the major social events of 1998.

But what started out as a fairy tale romance has now apparently ended in disaster. Edwards' official divorce complaint charges that Van Moore misled him about her past and, if he had known, he would never have married her. Edwards claims that he was completely truthful about his history but that Van Moore kept parts of her past secret, in order to lure him into marriage and set herself up for a potentially lucrative settlement in case of divorce.

When reached for comment, Edwards' attorney, Glenn T. Lester, declined to specify the details of the allegations, but said, "There is definite evidence of fraud here, and the truth will come out." Linton R. Oxendine, the attorney representing Van Moore, said, "There is absolutely no basis for Mr. Edwards' allegations of fraud. If anyone in this marriage is guilty of fraud, it is Mr. Edwards himself. It is he, not my client, who is seeking dissolution of the union after less than six months. That mere fact, on its face, suggests Mr. Edwards never had any intention of keeping his marriage vows."

Oxendine also indicated that, if Edwards refuses to consider reconciliation, Van Moore plans to counter-sue for half of his estate, which she claims is her rightful share under the agreement she and Edwards signed at the time of the marriage. However, local attorneys speculate that the agreement could contain a clause that would void Van Moore's claim, if either party's history was not fully disclosed and later is revealed to the detriment of the marriage.

Edwards has taken a temporary leave of absence from First National Bank to assist his attorney in the case preparation and expedite resolution of the divorce suit. He expects to return to work within six months.

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